Thursday, February 15, 2007

North London liberals, watching Notes, Nigeria's farcical campaigns

I missed my Monday regular blog date- had a busy weekend and then wasn't feeling too well- the ubiquitous winter feverish-feeling, cough and cold scenario- so did not feel like getting up to much.

Saturday was spent having dinner with a bona fide "North London liberal chattering classes" family. I was hugely impressed by the grasp that the children, both under twelve displayed on issues like colonialism, Zimbabwe and racism- far more sophisticated than many of my colleagues- white or black. We got on to the subject of Barack Obama and one of the children said he felt that it might be difficult in some of the key southern states for a black man to win the primaries. His mother interjected saying that people had said the same of Americans voting for a Catholic before Kennedy. The child retorted saying that it was different- the average Catholic wasn't obliged by law to sit on a different part of the bus or attend a different school- so it was not an appropriate comparison. This got me thinking about how Obama (like many mixed race people with black blood) is always described as black. His mother is white, his father is black, so he's 50-50. From my primary school mathematics that means he could be described either way. That he isn't suggests that we all still subscribe to the notorious "one-drop" rule of the racist Deep South. I know I'm being pedantic, but it's worth reflecting on

To the cinema on Sunday to watch Notes on a Scandal. I went with a friend who thought it might be too bleak for his liking. In the event there were plenty of laughs from Judi Dench's magnificent portrayal of a lonely school teacher who becomes obsessed with her colleague who is having an affair with a pupil and then tries to manipulate her. I loved the film- especially as it was set in London and there's something about seeing the familiar writ large on a cinema screen...dreaming of the day Lagos and Abuja and my village loom on a cinema screen....I digress. I also loved Cate Blanchett's portrayal of a member of the bohemian North london chattering classes and Bill Nighy as usual was great as her older husband. As we left the theatre, we argued about whether the affair was convincing. My friend could not imagine a woman in the Cate Blanchett position having an affair with a pupil. I argued that human beings get up to the most inscrutable and incomprehensible things especially where sex is concerned- think of all the scandals that have involved famous people....In any case on Monday I see a letter in the Evening Standard making exactly the same point as my friend,I swallow my pride and ring him to point this out

I stumble across an article about Duro Olowu a fashion designer of Nigerian-Jamaican descent who's apparently making waves on the international fashion scene

Femi Kuti is playing tonight at the Barbican, but by the time I tried to get tickets last week, it was sold out- that's the second time I've missed him, and coming after my failed attempt to see The Seagull at the Royal Court, I'm feeling a bit grumpy

I was amazed at the miles of media coverage given to the "revelation" that David Cameron had smoked pot (igbo, Indian hemp, wee-wee- as an aunt of mine used to refer to it) while at Eton and that it was amazing that it had not affected his poll ratings- this in a country where often on many streets you can smell the thing being smoked freely- a stench almost as strong as the hypocrisy that surrounded the whole media circus.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, the farce continues - The anti-corruption agency EFCC has now submitted its arbitrary list of "corrupt candidates" to the electoral commission, after a kangaroo panel is set up to vet the list. And just in case the electoral commissioners are in any doubt about how seriously to take it, two of them are arrested by (you guessed it) the EFCC. By using the anti-corruption agency in this cavalier blackmailing way, Obasanjo seems set to do more damage to democracy and the cause of anti-coruption than he realizes. It would all be laughable if not for the fact that at the end of the day, human lives are at stake.... Nigeriavillagesquare has an interesting article by a former US diplomat Again I can't help wondering where all this will lead....

I've just finished The Testament of Gideon Mack which I enjoyed. Set in Scotland it chronicles the life of an unbelieving Church of Scotland minister who has an encounter with the Devil which totally changes his life. It's provocative and well-written, and gripping into the bargain, with something of the Victorian Gothic about it. Next up on my list is Rachel Cusk's Arlington Park. For some reason I'm drawn at the moment to books set in the UK. I'm hoping to get The Yacoubian Building next week- it's had great reviews and has apparently been the topselling book in the Arab world for the last eighteen months or so .....


internationalhome said...

As usual you never fail to deliver (gosh i feel like a groupie)!! Was thinking about notes on a scandal and will now go to see it....was unsure until this point! I believe the world ought to look at the obama attempt not as the actual action (because he won't win)but because of the significance of it, debate after all is healthy. Of course, that doesn't apply in the Nigerian context, you just ask Orji Uzor kalu!!
P.s After all your funky weekends, how won't you fall ill!! (i know i know, na mi sabi)

Atala Wala Wala said...

"I was amazed at the miles of media coverage given to the "revelation" that David Cameron had smoked pot (igbo, Indian hemp, wee-wee- as an aunt of mine used to refer to it) while at Eton..."

Not really surprising. More and more of the news these days is really pseudonews.

"...and that it was amazing that it had not affected his poll ratings- this in a country where often on many streets you can smell the thing being smoked freely- a stench almost as strong as the hypocrisy that surrounded the whole media circus."

Why should it affect his poll ratings? Most people could care less what he got up to over twenty years ago - how does that affect his suitability to be prime minister now?

Of course, it would be a different matter if he was constantly banging on about wanting to exterminate all drug pushers and users.

naijabelle said...

Awwwwh pele, now that u feel better.Notes on a scandal looked like a nice movie when i saw the clips in the cinema on Tv would definitely be checking out maybe tommorrow.So femi kuti came and went and i didn't even know until i read ur blog just shows how out of touch i am.I absolutely love him and would have loved to see him live but hope he comes back soon and i know of it way before the event (see me sounding like a groupie) lol!

Waffarian said...

I have read "the yakoubian building", it is really good and gives a good insight into arab/egyptian life, covers a lot of social issues in the arab world. I loved it!had to get my own copy!

Anonymous said...

You hit on something I often wonder about myself. I too am mixed race and I took so much more from my mum (who is white) than my dad (who is black). And yet when I am asked, I always say I am black. But society has made it such that I would feel like a fraud should I ever say I am white. It almost feels like a lie. Is it because I grew up in Nigeria? I dunno but it does make me wonder how my mum feels to hear her daughter not acknowledge her in my 'make up'.

Unknown said...

gosh i love ur blog. thanks for the tips on the books!

Morountodun said...

Obama has been critised repeatedly about not being "black enough". Part of that criticism is based on the fact that his black dad was Kenyan and not typically African American (ie not a direct descendant of an American Slave). This he can't do much about.

Another part is his "Post-Racial" approach to Politics and outlining that American Politics in the 21st Century should be beyond race (a point that makes him popular with white voters) but will hardly make him a very sympathetic candidate for black voters.

Hundred and One Obama expressed similar sentiment to you when he featured in CBS' 60 Minutes recently, he was asked by if growing up in a white household had caused him to make a decision to be black. Barack Obama replied, “I’m not sure I decided it. I think if you look African-American in this society, you’re treated as an African-American.

internationalhome said...

Sup Mr Naijaman, you ok? No blogging over the last week....

uknaija said...

@Thanks mtb for your concern
@atalawalawala- I wasn't suggesting that it should affect his poll ratings. I was surprised at the "surprised" tone of the media reports- "And gosh look, his poll ratings are unaffected!"
@londonnaijachic- it's fine to be a groupie :-)
@thanks, waffarian, loved it too
@hundredandone you raise an important point which I'd never given much thought to until recently
@chameleon- you're welcome!

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